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Is it the Flu
-- or Carbon Monoxide
Poisoning?

 
 
There are so many things that can cause combinations of flu-like symptoms.  But one possible cause often overlooked is Carbon Monoxide from a faulty fossil fuel appliance. (natural gas, oil, propane, gasoline, charcoal, or kerosene.)  CARBON MONOXIDE
HEADACHE - A SYMPTOM OF CO POISONING
It's the same toxic gas that comes out of the tail pipe of your car.   And you can't smell it. 
You can smell unburned natural gas -- the gas company puts an odor-producing chemical in the gas it delivers, to make it noticeable if there's a gas leak on the supply side.  BUT CARBON MONOXIDE IS ODORLESS. NAUSEA - A SYMPTOM OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
IRREGULAR BREATHING - A SYMPTOM OF CO POISONING
The steel heat exchangers inside a furnace will deteriorate over the years.   The metal can develop cracks or warps due to the constant flexing caused by heat expansion and cooling contraction.  The steel rusts from the water vapor that is a by-product of the furnace combustion.  And when a heat exchanger deteriorates, it can allow the furnace's exhaust gases, which should be going up the chimney, to infiltrate your home's air.  A cracked heat exchanger is like a bird cage door left open. The canary can come and go whenever it pleases. And it doesn't always come out immediately when you open the cage. AND YOU CAN'T SMELL THE CARBON MONOXIDE WHEN IT COMES OUT OF THE HEAT EXCHANGER.
When natural gas burns cleanly, it converts the natural gas into heat, water vapor and carbon dioxide.  When burning conditions are less than ideal, such as an improper air mixture to your burner, or if traces of impurities are delivered in the gas itself, the biproducts include varying amounts of other chemicals, including sulfide gases and Carbon Monoxide.  YOU MAY SMELL OTHER BI-PRODUCTS, BUT YOU WON'T SMELL THE CARBON MONOXIDE. carbon monoxide
DIZZINESS - A SYMPTOM OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING In the words of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: "Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is incompletely burned. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu-like illnesses and include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and irregular breathing. Carbon monoxide can leak from faulty furnaces or fuel-fired heaters or can be trapped inside by a blocked chimney or flue."  CARBON MONOXIDE IS AN ODORLESS GAS.
You can't tell by looking at an appliance, or by sniffing your furnace vents, whether or not you have carbon monoxide in your home's air.  If your furnace heat exchanger fails, you may smell burning metal, you may smell unburned gas, or the vague smell of something burning.  BUT -- THE MOST DANGEROUS SITUATION OF ALL -- YOU MAY SMELL NOTHING. MENTAL CONFUSION - A SYMPTOM OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
FATIGUE - A SYMPTOM OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING And even worse, carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty home heating causes deaths in America every year.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,  "About 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment." Children and the elderly are the most severely affected.  Carbon Monoxide exposure will cause symptoms much like those of Influenza.  Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea, breathing difficulty. One thing that differentiates Carbon Monoxide from Flu-virus-induced symptoms, is that Carbon Monoxide exposure symptoms do not usually induce fever.
 "The first line of defense against carbon monoxide is to make sure that all fuel-burning appliances operate properly. Consumers should have their home heating systems (including chimneys and flues) inspected each year for proper operations and leakage."   Air Comfort Systems can provide you with the peace of mind that an annual furnace inspection can bring. Heating service and maintenance calls by Air Comfort Systems can include a FREE carbon monoxide reading using state-of-the-art digital meters.  HEADACHES - A SYMPTOM OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
carbon monoxide But, conditions in the house are constantly changing.  The home really needs something that constantly monitors the Carbon Monoxide levels in the home. It is only in the past ten years that Carbon Monoxide detection has been possible at the affordable price level of an over-the-counter appliance.  Quoting the Consumer Product Safety Commission again,  "Properly working carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning to consumers before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level. Exposure to a low concentration over several hours can be as dangerous as exposure to high carbon monoxide levels for a few minutes - the new detectors will detect both conditions. Most of the devices cost under $100.  Each home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the area outside individual bedrooms." 
Air Comfort Systems' parts department has these affordable new carbon monoxide detectors in stock.  The detectors we sell will meet or exceed the CPSC-recommended Underwriter's Laboratory UL 2034 (set in April 1992) voluntary standard.  The detectors monitor your home's air constantly, some provide an on-going digital readout, and all will sound an alarm when exposure to carbon monoxide reaches potentially hazardous levels over a period of time. NAUSEA - A SYMPTOM OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

"CPSC believes that carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors are."

 

The quotations in this article are part of Consumer Product Safety Commission document #5010. 
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction.   Their web site is http://www.cpsc.gov Consumers can obtain this publication and additional publication information from the Publications section of CPSC's web site or by sending your publication request to publications@cpsc.gov .

 

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